It is still largely a learning process for some parents, trying to navigate work from home and homeschooling. And the solution is definitely not one size fits all. Each family setup is different, ranging from the single-parent household to an extended family setup.
COVID Weekly turned to Parents Education for Development in Barbados (PAREDOS) for some guidance. PAREDOS is a non-profit organisation that has been developing partnerships with international and government agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and individuals to deliver parent education and support programmes.
Yasmin Kothidiwala, a PAREDOS counselor, noted that with the pandemic, routines have disappeared along with social activities. “Children don’t have to physically be in school, so they don’t have to wake up early; some parents are working from home, which means you might have to ‘go to work’ whenever, and some parents have to actually go to work and have the added stress of what to do with the children during this time,” she said.
Kothidiwala suggested several vital factors which would help greatly during these unprecedented times.
Have a daily routine
“Decide which chunk of the day you’re going to dedicate towards work, play, self-care, and chores,” advised Kothidiwala. She explained that if chores are usually done in the morning and now time must be dedicated to the supervision of your child’s online classes, then you can learn to roll with it and schedule chores for later in the day. She also advised that if it is possible to do your own work while the children are focused on classwork, try to get as much done during that time if you can. And while younger ones are napping, parents can engage in a little self-care, exercise, or some extra work, if preferred.
Talking with your partner or co-parent about what is expected of each other when it comes to sharing the workload is of utmost importance. And for single parents, Kothidiwala suggested having a timetable, which includes breaks and time spent with the children.
“Talk to your children using age-appropriate language, explaining why you need that hour of peace and quiet to get some work done,” said Kothidiwala, adding that incentives can also be utilised for this.
Similarly, it is wise to explain to co-workers, employers, or employees that there may be interruptions from time to time.
Set up a workspace
According to the PAREDOS counselor, setting up a specific room for work, once space allows, is ideal. If not, parents can set up a spot at home to be the ‘workplace’, ensuring that they get into the headspace for work. If possible, Kothidiwala suggested letting your children choose their own space for schoolwork as well.
“List a few minor things you would like to accomplish that day and tick them off as you go along,” said Kothidiwala. “You feel a sense of productivity after seeing that you have completed those little things that you may have been putting off for a while.”
Adjust your expectations
“We all have an ideal expectation about what we should be doing every day. Instead, your child decides that today is the day they will suspend themselves from virtual school; today is the day that they will throw a tantrum during an online meeting,” Kothidiwala said.
But she assured parents that it is okay for plans to derail, leaving them frustrated, annoyed, and fed up. “The key is to remember that children are also missing the normalcy of their lives, their friends, teachers, being outside, and having time away from their parents.”
This article appears in the February 22 edition of COVID Weekly. Read the full publication here.